Vol. 1, No. 2, November 2016
Look out for the
One Question Quiz & NEJRC Reaction Section
towards the bottom of the newsletter

Gather on Boston Common in Support
of Standing Rock 

On Wednesday November 9th, people from all ages and ethnicities peacefully assembled in Boston Common to show solidarity with Standing Rock. Cries of “water is life” rung out from the crowd as we marched through the streets. Local indigenous leaders voiced their concerns about the atrocities being committed against the water protectors in North Dakota.

The main subject of the gathering was to show solidarity with the indigenous people camped out in Standing Rock, North Dakota. They have been there since April putting their bodies on the line to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion natural gas pipeline that will run through sacred Native American burial grounds. In addition to running through Native burial grounds, there are also significant concerns that it will poison waterways that are crucial to their ways of life, including the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.

The event started at around 4 p.m. with impassioned speeches from local indigenous organizers, and moved on to a sacred prayer dance, where the crowd was asked not to record or take pictures. After this, the speeches continued.

“This country has gone wild for generations in the pursuit of profit,,” remarked Jim Peters of the Massachusetts Indian Commission.                                                                                                    
Two legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild, who had just returned from the camps, briefed the crowd on some of the injustices taken part in North Dakota. They spoke of people being jailed for participating in prayer circles, water protectors being pepper-sprayed by the hundreds, and even people being refused service at nearby stores, such as Lowes, for participating in the protests. However, the overall mood was optimistic - the overarching message in response to police harassment was “you can’t pepper spray us away.”

Shortly after 5, the indigenous leaders headed a march through downtown Boston, ending in the Charles River Esplanade.

Chants rang out, including:

 You can’t
    drink oil!

Keep it in the soil!
no tar sands!
off native lands!

The protest concluded in a traditional circle dance, leaving the crowd with a sense of community and hope.

While many of the people in the crowd were there mainly because of the events in North Dakota, organizers urged everyone not to forget about indigenous struggles all over the country. They effectively used the current attention to Standing Rock to highlight the injustice that indigenous people have faced for centuries, describing it as a 400-year genocide.
First Hand Account: Ben Vanderlan 
Photographs:  Nina Rossiter

United States:
Reports Reveals
EPA Indifference 
Towards Environmental Discrimination

Last Tuesday, November 8th, Coloradans approved Amendment 71, a new ballot measure which was at stake on election day. The measure, heavily backed by the fossil fuel industry, will make it significantly more difficult to include future initiatives and amendments to the state constitution on the ballot. Currently, signatures from five percent of voters who voted for the secretary of state are required to get a measure on the ballot. This task has proven extremely difficult for anti-fracking groups in Colorado, who have failed to get two anti-fracking amendments on the ballot this year. Amendment 71 will require two percent of registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts to sign a petition in order to bring a measure to the ballot. This will be a devastating blow to grassroots groups of all types in Colorado, and it saw bipartisan opposition. The historically conservative and fossil-fuel-friendly editorial board of the Denver Post even spoke out against the amendment. Unsurprisingly, Amendment 71 had significant support from the oil and gas industry in Colorado. In fact, the initial idea for it came out of the September 2015 meeting of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), where politicians and industry executives gather to discuss strategy. In a state where fossil fuel interests already outspend anti-fracking groups 24-to-1, this new amendment will block off one of the few remaining channels for direct democracy.

Source 1 Source 2
Written by, Ben Vanderlan


A Race Between Politics & Physics 

November 4th, 2016 marks the historic day in which the Paris Agreement became officially enforced. Some 15,000 negotiators, CEOs, and activists from 196 nations gathered in Marrakech, Morroco on Monday to kick off the 12-day UN Climate Summit. Their minds will be on the details of implementing the Paris Agreement, such as drafting rules for how to lower, operationalize, and report emissions, amassing billions of dollars to help poor countries deal with climate change. As it stands, 110 nations have ratified the Paris agreement of the 197 parties to the convention. UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon is hopeful for more positive change claiming that “What was once unthinkable has become unstoppable,” and furthermore he is optimistic that the U.S. will continue to work to limit global warming.

Written by, Savannah Kinzer

Profile:     Brian Helmuth, Professor
Northeastern University 

Department of Marine & Environmental Sciences, School of Public Policy & Urban Affairs

Dr. Brian Helmuth started his career in Marine Biology which was motivated by his love for diving.  He is currently a professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at Northeastern University. He completed his undergraduate degree at Cornell in Biology; Masters at Northeastern University in Marine Science; a PhD in the University of Washington; and a Post Doctoral at Stanford University. Dr. Helmuth now conducts research that explores the effects of climate change on the physiology and ecology of marine organisms. Dr. Helmuth enjoys, “collaborating with people who think differently to problems or have a different expertise than I do.”

“I love exploring new places and seeing things that many people don’t get  a chance to experience,” which is one of the main reasons Professor Helmuth loves conducting field work.

“At any one time my lab has multiple projects, ranging from climate change ecology to education to communication. A memorable instance, [when a project gave unexpected results], was in the Florida Keys where we took along a third grade teacher. We had a series of hypotheses that we were testing about the mechanisms via which water flow may reduce coral bleaching and, after a few days, rapidly found out that we were dead wrong. Instead, we came to a completely new understanding of how the process works.”

Professor Helmuth is currently on his way to Israel, “to work on a new project with collaborators there looking at how the physical structure of shorelines (including natural environments and human-made structures) affect patterns of biodiversity and recovery after extreme weather events. While we are there we will also be creating virtual reality tours in the intertidal and underwater, and as part of the project we are working to connect high school students in Israel with those in the Boston area."
Written by, Nina Rossiter
Film Review:  The Doubt Machine:
Inside the Koch Brothers' War
on Climate Science

This documentary reveals how the Koch Brothers have used their wealth to not only deter action on climate change, but make an attempt to buy the 2016 Congressional elections. The documentary, directed by Bruce Livesey, also displays how the Koch brothers fund fights against renewable energy policies at federal and state levels, and threaten climate scientists like Michael Mann and journalists like Jane Mayer.  

It is disturbing to see the many ways in which the Koch brothers have been using their immense wealth to plant the seeds of doubt about the science of climate change. The film displays how help from the media, as well as elaborate public relations tactics, make it so Koch-founded entities can do so much damage to the planet with complete impunity. Overall, the film demonstrates how The Koch brothers' attack on clean energy solutions is just one prong of their war on anything that threatens the dominance of fossil fuels.

Though the climate change denial movement has been well chronicled in other documentaries, The Doubt Machine incorporates useful personal context from climate scientists, such as Mann and Mayer, and draws the clear connections from the denial-sphere to the Koch brothers. The film’s revealing and shocking nature make it successful at showing just how much power money holds when it comes to the state of the environment.

Written by, Stacy Alabre

Did You Know?  Bhutan is a leading example for addressing climate issues through reframing national progress as Gross National Happiness, or GNH, rather than Gross National Product. Through this new framing of national productivity, Bhutan can now emphasize non-material capital, including environmental conservation and sustainability. Bhutan has deliberately chosen not to put profit and economic growth over people, culture, and environment. Unlike the United States, Bhutan puts environmental concerns at the heart of public policy.

Some policies include:

Remain carbon neutral

Ensure 60% landmass remains under forest cover

It is currently under 72%
   forest cover

Banned export of logging

Monthly ‘pedestrian day’ banning vehicles on roads

“Green school” teaching training programs

As a result of these efforts, Bhutan has a net carbon sink, (absorbing carbon from the atmosphere), sequestering 4 million tons of CO2 per year.

The idea attracted a lot of attention at the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha in 2012 and again in Paris in 2015. Here is the NEJRC reaction of UNICEF UK’s Stephen Pattison:

"Small and developing countries like Bhutan must get more support, and the UK and other governments must start actually taking action, like pledging their share of money to the green climate fund and get it up and running as soon as possible."

There are 9 domains used to measure happiness. The list includes living standard, health, education, time use, good governance, ecological diversity & resilience, psychological well-being, community vitality, and culture diversity & resilience. A happiness threshold is when a person enjoys sufficiency in 6 or more of the 9 domains.

Written by, Natalia Katz

What is NEJRC?

noun. [KNEE-jerk]

The Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative is a multidisciplinary research collaborative made up of scholars engaged in political ecology and environmental justice initiatives. Based at Northeastern University in Boston, the collaborative works on a wide range of local, regional, national, and international topics and issues. Professor Daniel Faber, a long-time researcher and advocate around environmental justice, serves as the Director.

Find more information here.

Subscribe to NEJRC Reactions Here!

Smart Water-Smart Cities:
A Cleantech Event

Thursday, December 01, 2016
5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Massachusetts Clean Energy Center
63 Franklin Street 3rd Floor,
Boston, MA 02110

Join this MIT event to learn:
Why have these issues not been solved before?

How can 3-D technologies, big data and IoT help cities optimize their energy and water use?

What are the greatest challenges to making ‘Smart Water—Smart Cities’ a reality?

How can we as entrepreneurs and as a part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem help cities with these complex and sometimes

Register Here

The Well Tempered City:
Climate Change, Health, Poverty, & Our Urban Future

Monday, December 05, 2016
6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

77 Avenue Louis Pasteur,
The Rotunda, Boston, MA

The environments in which we live are changing fast. To keep people healthy and alive, we must prevent diseases caused by turbulent weather, pollution, and increasingly crowded cities. Hear from a panel of experts including Jonathan Rose, Jack Spengler, and moderated by Steve Curwood, and learn about our new Master of Public Health in Sustainability and the Global Environment.

More Information Here


EBC Energy Resources Program: Energy Storage Comes to Massachusetts,
November 29, Boston, MA

Smart Water-Smart Cities: A Cleantech Event,
December 1, Boston, MA

TiE-Boston Carbon Capture,
December 5, Cambridge, MA

U.S. Energy Storage Summit 2016,
December 7-8, San Francisco, CA

New England Venture Summit,
December 7, Dedham, MA

TechSandBox: Rocket Pitch Competition,
December 8, Hopkinton, MA

Events Found by, Savannah Kinzer
Research Teaser


Impact Investing: Investments are made with the intention of making a social and/or environmental statement, while bringing money back to the investor.

Returns on such investments will vary greatly depending on numerous factors of the investment process. Many fear that investing in sustainable organizations will provide unstable returns, given our current system. This fear leads investors to stay with organizations that are currently more stable, sustainable or not, and externalize impacts it may have on future generations. Northeastern University’s divestment association, DivestNU, has sent a clear message to the university about how claiming to be a “green university” is not consistent with its investments. Whether direct or indirect, investments in the fossil fuel industry signify that we believe, as investors, that the fossil fuel industry will continue growing and expanding. Although Northeastern does find other ways to say it cares about sustainability such as setting aside $25 million from its endowment to make investments in green education, architecture, clean energy, and sustainable water and agricultural practices, this inconsistency should not progress any further.

The Northeastern University Impact Investing Initiative (NUIII), a dedicated student group, will “research other universities that have impact investing initiatives and funds to collect key information on them.” Furthermore, the group will, “use that data as we develop our own model and craft a case for an impact investing fund to Northeastern University councils”(Source). By crafting a model expressly for Northeastern from pre-existing models that have proven successful, the university can practice what it preaches.

Written by, Dori Chaput

Coming Soon


2016 Presidential
Election Edition

Look for it in your inbox next week! 
The Doubt Machine:
Inside the Koch Brothers'
War on Climate Science

Click the button below to take our One Question Quiz:

Which domain do you think is the biggest contributor to happiness?

Find out more after taking a guess at the answer!

Copyright © 2016. Northeastern University: NEJRC, All Rights Reserved.

Edited by Laura Bernstein CSSH'19 and Natalia Katz CSSH'19
Designed & Edited by Anna Driscoll CAMD'18

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